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More first experiences on Thailand’s new budget airlines

CMM zingers are effective in questioning government thinking

Police encourage crazy driving practices in Chiang Mai

Well done Reinhard

More first experiences on Thailand’s new budget airlines

Dear Chiangmai Mail,

It was with great interest that I read the letter of Disgruntled Flyer, published in your excellent newspaper last weekend. Please allow me to add some of my personal experiences that might give a fairer impression about this new bread of airlines.

I have used One-Two-Go by Orient Thai (OX) as well as ThaiAirAsia (FD) various times since their start in December and February respectively. But before I go into details allow me a general remark about these new consumer friendly airlines: We should be entirely grateful to the airline entrepreneurs like Khun Udom (OX) for their vision and fighting spirit and for giving us the opportunity to find alternatives to the so overpriced and monopoly-like acting mainstream carriers like Thai Airways (TG).

Sure there might be some hiccups and problems at the beginning of new air services, may it be a full fare airline or a budget carrier. And I am very happy if an airline decides to rest their planes for maintenance rather than flying with damaged or not regularly maintained airplanes. The fact that these budget carriers don’t waste money in keeping spare airplanes enables them to offer us lower fares.

My personal experiences: first of all let me tell you that I am totally happy and fully satisfied with the service received from OX (Orient Thai). From the telephone booking up to the arrival at my destination and delivery of baggage, it seems to be one of the most efficient and warm hearted airlines I ever traveled on. The professionalism of the staff is truly encouraging. Sure there is the language barrier at certain times, I agree, but the charm and real dedication of OX staff to satisfy their customer more than compensates for that shortcoming.

I would like to draw a kind of comparison between OX and FD (ThaiAirAsia), which might help future passengers to choose the better alternative. The major difference between these airlines is their fare structure. OX is charging one flat fare for all seats and all flights BKK-CNX-BKK at 999 baht+ tax, one way (the fare was later raised to 1,400 baht) whereas FD is charging various fares for the same sector, ranging from 99 baht to 2,000 baht. So it is very difficult to budget your travel costs if you decide to use FD. And be aware, their advertised rates of 99 baht and 600 baht are “conveniently” always snatched up, if they really exist.

At various occasions I called FD’s call center and was told “Sorry Sir, but that fare is not available right now or for the near future. But we can offer you a fare of just 2,000 baht plus surcharges!” On top of that, don’t be surprised if the mentioned air fare is increased by a couple of hundred baht by surcharges and taxes, etc., and worst of all by 7% VAT, which is a true shame as airlines do not pay VAT. These 7% go straight into FD’s pocket. That raised the thought if FD is truly a low fare airline or just a gimmick ripping of the inexperienced traveler.

If it comes to service on board, sure OX wins me over again. I received free flow of apple juice, water, soft drinks and refills as many times as I asked for, got loads of peanuts and rice crackers. Guess what; on FD I had to pay for every single item I consumed. Draw your own conclusion.

But then I always give all service providers a second chance, so I used FD again and I found myself on an Orient Thai (OX) airplane? After investigating, I was told that both of FD’s airplanes were down with engine failure (at least not bird flu) and that they were able to obtain spare airplanes from rival OX. Isn’t that great? At least these budget carriers support each other and help in times of struggle. I just wonder how TG would have reacted if either OX or FD would have asked for a spare airplane ... I think we all know the answer.

I am a very happy Orient Thai ‘One -Two- Go’ user and will use them whenever I can. Great news that new routes to Chiang Rai and Hat Yai are coming up soon.

A Happy OX Flyer


CMM zingers are effective in questioning government thinking

Dear Sir;

I love the tongue in cheek way you have of questioning the intelligence or even sanity of many current government policies, both local and national. I have noticed your ‘zingers’ generally are in the last sentence and very effective in questioning government thinking.

It does seem to me that the Thaksin regime is heavy-handed and extremely arrogant in its dealings with Thailand. I hope a change in the governing party will occur early next year, but it does not appear likely at this time.

I have been traveling to Thailand for many years and am greatly distressed in this rapid turn to the right in politics, economics and the new social order. I trust that the Thai people will soon see through this wrong-headed thinking and return to a more tolerant Thai way of running their own government and society.

Please withhold my name if you publish this letter. I fear the Thaksin government ‘looking in’ on me in my next visit to your beautiful country. Thailand is far too special for the momentary aberration that Thaksin represents.

Regular Chiang Mai Visitor.

PS - Good luck in removing any and all naughty and four letter words from anything remotely associated with your wonderful newspaper.


Police encourage crazy driving practices in Chiang Mai

Editor;

I travel 25 minutes to work every day along the 118, Chiang Rai Road into Chiang Mai. Has anybody, apart from me, seen what can only be called ‘crazy” antics of the traffic police who direct cars, which are doing ‘u’ turns, into the fast lane instead of making sure the cars travel across the highway as quickly as possible to get into the slow lane?

Also, on numerous occasions I have been quite happily motoring on at around 100 km only to have a policeman jump out in front of me to let cars on the other side of the highway do ‘u’ turns.

Quite mad I say.

While I am on the subject of traffic police and the laws of the road, how can the police enforce the crash helmet law when so many police officers wear only their peaked, cloth caps?

Surly this is wrong. Laws are enforced from the top.

Thank you for allowing me my say,
Chrissy Wang
Chiang Mai


Well done Reinhard

Chiangmai Mail:

Just wanted to let you know that your article from ‘Reinhard Hohler’, regarding the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2004 appears to me better that the one that was published in (a highly read trade publication).

I am looking forward to read more in your paper.

Rgds. Saman Sarathchandra
General Manager
Sedona Hotel Yangon

These Buddha images we snatched will prove to be truly lucky - if we don’t get caught and defrocked.